-10,000 still unregistered
As the clock winds down to General Elections which is slated to be held by August, thousands of persons remain unregistered because of the sloth in the issuance of birth certificate, one of the key documents used to issue the National Identification Card.
During a meeting with People’s National Congress Reform (PNCR) on Monday, the Guyana Elections Commission (GECOM) disclosed that it is a major problem that it has been attempting to tackle for over three years now with the General Register Office.
The matter was yesterday raised with President Bharrat Jagdeo who promised to examine ways to resolve the issue.
It is estimated that around 10,000 persons eligible to be registered are unable to do so because of no birth certificates.
According to the GECOM yesterday, PNCR during Monday’s meeting at the Commission’s office in Kingston, had expressed concerns about “the large number of persons who could not apply for registration, either because they were not in possession of their birth certificates or their births were never registered, hence they were never issued birth certificates.”
GECOM’s Chairman, Dr. Steve Surujbally, disclosed that the body, which is tasked to ensure that elections are smooth, is aware that there are “thousands” of persons who would be of voting age, but who could not apply for registration “because they were/are not in possession of “birth certificates, since their births were never registered.”
GECOM claimed that it had raised this matter at several levels, including with the Minister of Home Affairs and the General Registrar and attempted to push for more speed.
“Further, GECOM had emphasized that the applications for birth certificates be treated with more alacrity by the General Register Office. The objective behind this thrust was to stimulate suitable action with
the result being the registration of the births of the concerned persons so that they could be issued birth certificates to be used to apply for registration.
“To date, the Commission’s representations have not borne the desired fruits, although almost 3.5 years have elapsed since GECOM’s initial and repeated overtures and initiatives.”
According to GECOM, it was noted by Surujbally that parliamentary political parties had agreed that only original birth certificates and valid passports, along with supporting documents including marriage certificates and deed polls would be accepted as source documents for registration.
“The objective of this agreement was to ensure that only persons who met the eligibility criteria would be registered. The parties had agreed that baptismal certificates, expired passports, photocopies of relevant documents or letters from priests, elders, headmasters, village captains/toshaos and Justices of the Peace or existing ID cards will not be acceptable as source documents for registration.
According to GECOM, Monday’s meeting was at the behest of the PNCR to clarify and draw attention to certain matters connected with the recent Cycle of Continuous Registration and the General and Regional Elections of 2011. The PNCR team comprised Oscar Clarke, Amna Ally and Ernest Elliot
During the meeting Clarke pointed out that the PNCR had been doing its share in trying to motivate persons who had not as yet uplifted their ID Cards by using the registration areas lists of such persons which had been prepared by GECOM and shared with the parliamentary political parties.
“Mr. Clarke was concerned, however, that the PNCR had not received the list of persons from the South Georgetown Registration Areas. Acknowledging that the lists for all of the other Registration Areas had already been given to his Party, he said that the receipt of this outstanding list would enable the PNCR to enthuse the relevant persons to collect their ID Cards.”
According to GECOM, Clarke also expressed concern over what he described as a “rumour” that GECOM intends to mail the ID cards to the respective registrants who were yet to collect theirs.
However, Surujbally made it clear that GECOM never intended to mail ID cards to registrants nor will the Commission ever go in this direction, for obvious reasons.
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